People Feature

Natasja Rupesinghe

DPhil in International Relations

Natasja Rupesinghe is a DPhil candidate in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford at Nuffield College. She is also a PhD fellow in the Peace, Conflict and Development Research Group at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).

Her research focuses on conflict, political violence, civilian agency and protection issues, as well as how states and international organisations like peace and counter-insurgency operations respond to violence and instability. She has conducted fieldwork in Mali, Somalia, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka.

Natasja Rupesinghe’s PhD project examines jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel region of West Africa, focusing on the cases of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. This research explores a number of interrelated questions including: why do jihadist insurgencies mobilise and develop local systems of rule in some localities and not others? What explains variation in jihadist insurgent governance? Why do some establish local rule through the use of force and violence, while others employ legitimacy-building techniques, such as providing local justice? Why do some communities prevent jihadists from developing a presence in their villages, when doing so involves taking considerable risks? Her project is funded through the Norwegian Research Council’s FRIPRO (funding scheme for independent projects), as part of a NUPI-led international project “Jihadist Insurgent Governance in the Sahel”.

Prior to starting her doctorate, Rupesinghe has been a Research Fellow at NUPI on the Training for Peace Programme and has been seconded as a policy officer to the African Union Peace Support Operations Division, at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. She has an MSc in Conflict Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA in European Social and Political Studies specialising in International Relations and French at the University College London.